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Digital futurist and virtual keynoter Brian Fanzo in his podcast studio.

Virtual Keynotes Need a Unique Flavor

A headline presenter for next month’s Planet IMEX virtual event reveals the two elements that can give online keynote presentations an impact as powerful as those delivered in person.

We’re less than four weeks out from the October version of Planet IMEX, a second installment of IMEX Group’s multi-day virtual education and networking that serves as this year’s alternative to September’s IMEX America show, which was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the sessions that will take place during the October 12-16 online gathering is a keynote presentation by Brian Fanzo, digital futurist and creator of social-media channel iSocialFanz. His topic for the audience of meeting and event planners: Finding speakers who fully reinvent their keynotes for the virtual medium rather than trying to deliver their keynote mostly as they would in-person, which is bound to disappoint.

“For many speakers, their thoughts about virtual experiences and the impact of technology is either associated with innovations around augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, or it’s linked it to the 30-minute webinars they’ve provided over the years,” Fanzo says.

Instead, keynote presenters should focus on using technology to communicate with and understand a specific audience both ahead of an event and then during the presentation itself to “allow them to step into our shoes and interact with the powerful emotions of our narrative.”

In short, keynoters must use technology to inform themselves enough to deliver a storytelling experience that demonstrates empathy for the audience’s situation, striking an emotional chord by connecting their stories to that situation. For planners, one of the biggest challenges is distinguishing those presenters who have truly reinvented their keynotes to achieve empathy and emotion in the virtual medium from those who have merely transposed their in-person approach to virtual.

Here’s the outline for October’s Planet IMEX virtual event:

Monday, October 12  
From virtual yoga and meditation to the fine art of latte portraiture and much more

Tuesday, October 13 and Wednesday October 14 
Educational sessions including “Inspiring stories: A sustainable, equitable future for all” by Courtney Lohmann and Mariella McIlwraith

Thursday, October 15
A day of specialized education featuring live panelists and interactive roundtable discussions

Friday, October 16
Community Day in association with Planet IMEX partner organizations

For the tentative speakers lineup, click here.

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